From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Sylvia Blyden Warns Youths To stay off the Streets as Police Officers Ransack Our Offices & Invite her for Questioning
By Rose Rwanda Tee
May 13, 2009, 17:40

The very popular youthful Publisher of the Awareness Times Newspaper, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden has stated her belief that some recalcitrant members of the ruling party who do not want the Joint Communique to be implemented are hiding under the article on Arabella Foray to foment some instability in the capital city. Therefore, Blyden has called on the youths of Sierra Leone to completely stay away from the Police’s Major Incident Support Team offices where she has been invited in for questioning.

Dr. Sylvia Blyden

Blyden, who is currently out of the Freetown jurisdiction in a safe place in Kailahun District, yesterday suffered from police officers ransacking her offices under the guise of executing a search warrant. The policemen forcibly took along the paper’s Accounts Clerk, Abubakarr I. Kamara since they found no member of the place of Editorial team. The clerk was later released at the Police Station to SLAJ President Umaru Fofana who speedily rushed to the offices.

The last time Blyden was invited in by police for questioning was just over a year ago, on 6th March 2008. It was again over a publication concerning the President. At that time, it will be easily recalled that, irate youths of Freetown demonstrated with placards calling for her release from police custody. This spurred the ruling APC’s Foday ‘Government Wharf’ Mansaray to mobilise his own youths to attack youths in support of Sylvia Blyden thus leading to a standstill at the Police CID which quickly spread around the immediate environs of the CID in the capital city. It resulted in damage that caused some vehicles to be stoned with a diplomat’s windscreen being broken by the APC youths who then proceeded to stone the Opposition SLPP Party offices destroying all the windows. This time, Blyden has alerted to what she believes is a ploy by certain unscrupulous people who want to use her invitation for questioning as a pretext to initiate instability in the capital city.

"I do not believe the President will send loads of police officers to ransack a newspaper’s offices simply because we published about his girlfriend being misrepresented as his wife to the people of Kailahun. Instead, what I suspect is that certain hawks in the APC Government want to use me as a pawn to create instability and justify a State of Emergency. Unless otherwise, I do not believe President Koroma will endorse that ransacking of my offices and my invitation for questioning but as soon as I am back within the Freetown jurisdiction, I will get down to the bottom of the matter," Blyden told this writer on the phone line from the Kailahun Court Barray where she arrived late last night.

Meanwhile, even as Sylvia Blyden insisted that her story on the President’s girlfriend was "well sourced" with "recorded voice interviews" and "sensitive information" to back it up with, she used the opportunity of her chat with this writer to call on the Police to make a formal written invitation for her which would clearly state exactly why she was being invited in for questioning.

"I found it very strange to hear a senior police officer tell me over the phone that he was in my office to search because I published ‘stuff’ against the President’s girlfriend. Very strange because it seems to be the height of idleness but let them put it down in writing that Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden is wanted by the Sierra Leone Police for questioning in connection with an article concerning the President’s sweetheart and that for the very same article, my offices were ransacked by policemen," Blyden said.

However, Blyden informed that if the Police were dead serious about hurling her in for questioning, she would quickly turn herself in. She said that she was not running away from Police Questioning but would turn herself in to the Police as soon as it was feasible for her to do so.

"If indeed the Police see the publication of materials about the President’s girlfriend as a Major Incident, then I will just simply go to the Local Unit Commander of the Police here in Kailahun and hand myself over to him for questioning. Since this LUC is the same one who informed Kailahun District Chairman Tom Nyuma that he had received orders to prepare the ground for the so-called First Lady’s slated visit of this Friday May 15th 2009 when it was only Arabella Foray who was planning to visit, then it will be good for the same LUC to be the one to initially question me about this matter," Blyden opined on the line from her current location in Kailahun, in the far East of the country near the Liberian border.

Meanwhile, New People Newspaper had to forcibly shut down operations yesterday after known thugs from State House surrounded their 33 Bathurst Street offices. The paper had planned to start to publish a series called All the President’s Women.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.